The Community Reformed Church
Whiting, New Jersey
In the 1970's, many people were moving into the new senior community called Crestwood
Village, built in Manchester by Mike Kokes. Many of them came from Northern New Jersey
and the New York City area, and some had been in Reformed Church congregations there.
In June 1975 the Classis of New Brunswick appointed a New Church Development Committee
to look into the feasibility of establishing a church for the new community. A survey
found enough interested residents - some former Reformed Church members - to proceed.
So the project went forward, with financial help and organizational assistance from
the New Church Committee and the RCA.
A committee of residents was formed, and proceeded with the tasks of finding a place
to worship, and acquiring the necessary equipment. The first service was held on Sunday,
Dec. 7, 1975 in a clubhouse in the Pine Ridge Community of Crestwood Village, and was
well attended. Pastor Willard Wullschleger served as Interim Pastor. An organ had been
rented, and Mrs. Charlotte Hollwedel volunteered to be the regular church organist. The
next week the service was moved to a rented store in the Crestwood Shopping Center. Later,
it was moved again to larger quarters adjoining the Garden Center, which would be the
church's home for the next several years.
On May 2, 1976, the congregation was formally organized as a church, with 174 names
enrolled as charter members. Later that month, Rev. Harold Schut of Scotia, NY was
invited to be the church's first installed pastor. He accepted and preached his
first sermon on Sept. 19, 1976. A surprise farewell dinner was held for Pastor
Wullschleger at the Oyster Bay Restaurant, which was attended by most of the
congregation. Ed Chamberlin provided music with his accordion, and John Chamberlin
entertained with several solos.
The search for a permanent site for the church continued. A site on Lacey Road was
selected. It was a five-acre plot, of which Mike Kokes had donated three acres. On
Nov. 19, 1976 a congregational meeting elected a Consistory, and adopted a budget for
1977. The Consistory met with an architect on his proposal for a new church building,
and on June 10, 1977 the plans were approved. This was celebrated with a ground-breaking
ceremony on June 26.
When the bids from contractors were opened, it was found that the building would cost
considerably more than expected. The low bidder was then asked to revise his bid downward,
eliminating items not considered essential. The Church Extension Committee and the RCA each
agreed to lend $150,000, with the rest to be raised through a fund-raising campaign from
the congregation. Actual construction began in September.
That September the first Family Game Night was held, and in October the first baazar,
called a Dutch Fair, was held, and was a "tremendous success."
Meanwhile, work on the building continued, with the raising of the steel framework,
the placement of beams, and completion of the roof. In January of 1978 the masonry
work was completed, and the church tower awaited delivery of the steeple. On Feb.
4, 1978 the steeple was put in place, and a cheer was heard as the rooster which
topped the steeple was positioned. Attention was then turned to finishing the
interior of the church — the floors, partitions, and carpeting, and the parking lot.
Sunday, August 8, 1978 was the day of the first service in the new building. The
church was formally dedicated on September 17, 1978. As Pastor Schut's contract term
was coming to an end, he agreed to a six-month extension. On Sunday, September 7,
1980 Rev. H. Paul Morehouse conducted the service as a candidate for the pastorate
of the church. Following the service, the congregation voted to invite him to be the
next pastor of the church.
(The above summary of events is based on information in the booklet entitled "In the
Beginning — The Founding of the Community Reformed Church" by William C. Rosenberg (1983)
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Community Reformed Church
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